Viewers not yet Titanic-ed out from April coverage of the 100-year anniversary of the storied ship's sinking will find something new in Encore's "Titanic: Blood and Steel" (8-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday). The 12-hour miniseries is about building the ship, not its maiden voyage.
Titanic doesn't even set sail until the miniseries' final hour, and even then, viewers don't get to see it sink or learn the fates of characters they spent the past 11 hours watching. Perhaps producers are counting on a sequel?
Fans of historic fiction may get a kick out of this retelling of the famous story, told from the point of view of fictitious Titanic metallurgist Mark Muir (Kevin Zegers,), who raises questions early in Titanic's construction about the quality of steel used to build the ship. He's an annoyance to real-life figures such as Titanic naval architect Thomas Andrews (Billy Carter), who reports to chairman of the Harland and Wolff shipyard Lord William Pirrie (Derek Jacobi) and Titanic financier J.P. Morgan (Chris Noth, "The Good Wife").
Muir hides secrets that drip out over the course of the miniseries, which also explores issues of class -- as all Titanic stories inevitably do -- and religion and collective bargaining as some Belfast, Ireland, shipyard owners lock out workers.
Written by executive producers Mark Skeet and Matthew Faulk ("Vanity Fair") and directed by Ciaran Donnelly ("The Tudors"), Monday's two-hour premiere capably introduces the miniseries' sprawling cast.
That producers opt to tell a different Titanic story is admirable in light of so many filmed versions of the story that already exist, including a four-hour miniseries that aired on ABC earlier this year. But the decision not to reveal the fates of the miniseries' fictional characters may feel like a cheat to anyone who invests 12 hours in this program.